By Marie-Renee Goulet


I woke up Saturday feeling like a kid on Christmas morning. Grabbed my phone, and sure enough, the Banff Film Festival email was in and it read: “Good news, it’s release day!” Followed by the button to “start watching now”. Well, don’t mind if I do. The 10-second commute was appreciated. Using Air-play from my  laptop to my TV to watch the opening statement from the Festival however, I missed the crowd and the vibe from the Festival itself. I missed being in Banff and the beautiful scenery. I missed picking up books in my hands and talking to the authors. However, this is where we are, so let’s get on with it!

Here’s the festival trailer.

First on the Program: 

Bear-Like, DER BÄR IN MIR (2019) 1h33m. Nature Documentary

  • Directed by Roman Droux
  • With David Bittner
  • Narrated by Marcus Signer
  • Released October 2020
  • Language: Swiss German.

Watch the documentary trailer.

Most of the documentary is subtitled in English. Being shot in Alaska, David does speak English to the bears, which I found funny given the complete absence of humans and languages in this part of the Alaskan wilderness. 

Director Droux realized a childhood dream after meeting David Bittner, a bear biologist who spent much of the last 20 years visiting the bear population in Alaska. Droux and Bittner camped in Alaska for 3 months and filmed the existence of these beautiful creatures. By now, David is on a first-name basis with some of the bear population. His favourites are Luna, a gorgeous blond, Balu, his longest friendship, and the Boss, Bruno, the current alpha male who took over from Oliver a few years back. In case you are wondering, this is nothing like Grizzly Man (2005), although they are flown in by the same pilot who eventually found Threadwell’s remains. The men on this expedition know to have an electrified fence around their camp and keep a respectful distance from the animals. Beyond the stunning mountain views, they captured some of the most intimate images ever taken of bears. This documentary will allow you to witness scenes you never could on your own, but it also means there is no real momentum to the story, so if you are not curious about bears, this story may not be for you. I found it fascinating and was touched by some of the realities of the wild and several similarities to humans. Like humans, cubs are born entirely dependent on their mothers, who must feed and raise them for years. The thread taking us through this film is following a bear family emerging from hibernation, a mother and her 3 cubs, and their struggle through their first summer. Just like us, there is a societal hierarchy followed by all. They will also, much like humans, kill each other.

Some of the scenes are just downright adorable, think a 1-year-old cub named Fluffy, sitting back on his behind by the river much like a human would, eating himself into a case of the hiccups. They captured some extreme close-ups that really allowed you to see bears as you hope you will never see in person. Bears are curious, however, and leaving a camera on a tripod will sometimes lead to a bear making off with the equipment and leaving it in the river. The camera was later confirmed not to be waterproof. This is an engaging, beautiful documentary. On to the next!

More to come!

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